The GT3 is as adept at cutting up race tracks as it is at making you feel like a hero on that one really good freeway on-ramp by your house. It isn’t the quickest, fastest or most powerful version of the Porsche 911, but there’s an unrelenting tenacity — a real joie de vivre — that defines the GT3 experience.
That’s especially important since, these days, pinpointing the tangible differences between some 911 models can feel like splitting hairs. The GT3 bucks this trend by bringing its own engine, transmission and front suspension to the table — you won’t find its 4.0-liter flat-6, 6-speed manual gearbox or double-wishbone front setup anywhere else in the 911 range.
The GT3 is also the only 992-generation 911 that doesn’t have a turbocharger; its naturally aspirated flat-six makes 502 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque. This means you can rev the ever-loving snot out of this engine and it’ll just keep egging you on. Brush against the stratospheric 9,000-rpm redline just before you upshift for the full tingles-down-your-spine endorphin rush. And when you aren’t giving it hell, enjoy the 4.0-liter’s steady-throttle midrange hum. Porsche offers a Bose audio upgrade for $1,600, but with such a sweet soundtrack playing right behind your head, why bother?
A heavy clutch and short-throw gearbox are highlights of the GT3’s six-speed manual transmission, as is the automatic rev-matching feature that comes on in Sport mode. (A lot of people hate this, but I don’t — it works so well.) If I can nitpick for a moment, though, the GT3’s shifter feels a little, I don’t know, hollow, like it’s missing the metallic tactility you get in Porsche’s Cayman GT4.
Now that I’ve spent time in both the standard GT3 and GT3 Touring and have had a chance to drive the six-speed manual as well as the optional seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, I’m ready to make a decision. If I were buying the winged GT3, which is arguably the one that’s most likely to see track duty, I’d get the PDK. It shifts quicker than even the most skilled manual driver and is perfectly tuned to accommodate the GT3’s antics. If I were buying the GT3 Touring — and let’s be honest, this is totally the way I’d go — I’d have the manual transmission. The Touring is all about great drives on great roads, and that’s a recipe best stirred with a stick.
Wing or no wing, the GT3 freaking flies. That trick front suspension was adapted from the 911 RSR race car, and it gives the GT3 otherworldly levels of poise while also improving turn-in and feedback compared to a more traditional MacPherson strut setup. The steering is light and quick and the 255/35 front and 315/30 rear summer tires are nearly impossible to break loose. On that note, the Lava Orange car pictured here has the optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires that can be fitted at the dealer level; the GT3 comes standard with the normal-but-still-outstanding Cup 2s. This car also has the $10,110 carbon ceramic brakes with black calipers, which is a very good look with the satin-finished 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels.
Unlike other ceramic brakes, the GT3’s aren’t a pain in the ass to modulate, even at slower speeds, like when you’re just killing time between stoplights because you aren’t quite ready to go home. Combined with the chef’s-kiss front suspension, I keep having to remind myself to stop braking so early when entering a turn, because the GT3 can handle way more speed than what I’m scrubbing off. Eventually my brain adapts and learns to trust the Porsche’s prowess. But man, wow, it’s remarkable how unflappably fast this car can take a corner.
Does all this goodness come at the expense of driving comfort? You bet. Will that stop you from wanting to drive this car all the time? Hell no. Even the GT3’s softest chassis setting is pretty darn stiff, and this car hates broken pavement and expansion joints. That’s not to say it’s unlivable, of course — it’s not half as horrific as, say, a Nissan GT-R. Just please do yourself a favor and order the $3,670 front axle lift system to spare the GT3’s chin, which is programmable and can automatically activate based on GPS data. You’ll never forget about that speed bump half-way down your street again.
The extended-range fuel tank ($230) is another good quality-of-life upgrade, especially considering no respectable GT3 driver will ever hit the EPA’s 14 mpg city, 18 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined fuel economy ratings. I’d also have a hard time passing up the $5,900 one-piece carbon fiber bucket seats. Yeah, getting in and out of them sucks, but they’re supportive as heck and feel appropriate in something as hardcore as a GT3.
Porsche finally gave its infotainment system Android Auto compatibility for 2022, though unlike Apple CarPlay, it can’t be used wirelessly. Driver-assistance tech is also in super-short supply, limited to optional traffic sign recognition and rear parking sensors. But again, it’s a GT3, so really, who cares?
The 2022 GT3 costs $164,150 to start, which includes a $1,350 destination charge and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax. Option yours like mine and you’ll be just shy of $195,850. Did I mention the better-looking Touring package is free?
Here’s the crazy part, though: The sub-$200K price tag is kind of a bargain. The GT3 handily stands toe to toe with the world’s best sports cars — I’m talking things like the $330,000 Lamborghini Huracan STO, $212,000 Maserati MC20 and $326,050 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series. And it does so without looking obnoxious and actually gives you a place to put a suitcase. There’s a lot to be said for that.
But more than any of those cars, the GT3 feels friendlier and more approachable, like it’s less of a hassle to take out whenever you want. For those reasons and more, the GT3 is the absolute definition of a driver’s car. It’s visceral and superlative, and something you’ll want to drive all the time.